Shame on You
Author:Tara Sivec

He scoops her up with ease and swings her around in circles on the front porch.

“Look at how big you’ve gotten. You’re going to be taller than me soon,” he tells her before setting her back down on her feet. “I told you we’d talk later, Kennedy. It’s later.”

Why? Why does he choose now to be a man of his word?

“Liv, why don’t you go into your room and look through that new Soldier of Fortune magazine I got you?” I step aside so Griffin can come into the house, closing the door behind him. I’d really much rather slam the door in his face, but I’d never do that in front of Livia.

Griffin has always been amazing with my girls and they adore him. I feel a twinge of guilt over the fact that I shut him out of their lives as well. They’ve had a hard enough time dealing with the divorce ever since it was finalized a few weeks ago and their father being so self-absorbed that he can’t even spend an hour with them every couple of weeks. Maybe I can try to be the bigger person here for their sakes.

Livia throws her arms around Griffin’s waist and squeezes tight before racing off down the hall to her room.

“Soldier of Fortune?” Griffin asks me with a smile and a raise of his eyebrows.

“Oh, please. Don’t act like that’s a surprise. You’re the one who bought her a camo bed set and all eleven seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD for her birthday last month,” I remind him, my heart constricting at the fact that even during our estrangement he still remembered my daughter’s birthday.

We stand there in the foyer staring at each other for a few minutes and the silence grows uncomfortable. Griffin and I have never been at a loss for words around each other. Even in the past when I’ve been irritated with him and his blatant, flirty comments or annoyed when he acts like a typical, self-absorbed guy, I had a lot to say.

This momentary truce I’ve declared in my head thirty seconds ago is already starting to mess with me. Standing here this close to him, I’m forgetting why I was even mad at him in the first place. Griffin moved to town after Alex and I had been dating for a few months, and suddenly I started to have doubts about my feelings for Alex. For a little while, it was a serious struggle for me to be around Griffin and not fantasize about being with him. To make matters worse, Griffin and Alex quickly became good friends and the three of us spent practically every waking moment together. He was sweet and thoughtful, even as a teenager, and he proved time and time again what a loyal friend he was to both of us.

A week before prom, Alex and I got into a typical teenage fight over something stupid and decided to take a break. Griffin, whom I’m assuming felt sorry for me, saved the day and told me he would be my date instead. I thought it was fate finally getting her shit together and deciding to join my side. Unfortunately, Griffin’s ex-girlfriend at the time found out he asked me and she suddenly realized how much she loved him and begged him back. Griffin ditched me. Alex and I made up and the rest is history.

Or at least I thought. These past few days have been the first time I’ve been alone with Griffin since I dumped even the idea of Alex and me. It’s the first time I’ve been single around him since high school and I’m suddenly reminded of all the reasons why I had such a huge crush on him back then. It’s all I can do not to imagine him naked.

“So, are you ready to talk to me yet?” he asks, finally breaking the silence.

I take a step back from him and clear all thoughts of him in the buff from my head. It’s making me twitchy.

“That depends. Are you going to try and feed me the same line of bullshit you did six months ago?” I ask as I cross my arms in front of me and stare him down.

He sighs deeply and runs his hand through his hair, making it stick up in all directions. He always does that when he’s frustrated or angry. I wonder which it is right now. It’s probably both.

“It wasn’t bullshit, Kennedy. You only heard part of that conversation. I swear to you, I had no idea he was having an actual relationship with that woman.”

I scoff at him and roll my eyes.

“Let’s be honest here. She’s not a woman; she’s a child. A home-wrecking, slutty child and you condoned his behavior and told him to keep it from me,” I tell him, trying to keep my voice down so the girls won’t hear me.

“I should have never said that. At the time, I thought it was just a one-time thing. I thought he had just fucked up and it was never going to happen again. I knew it would kill you if you found out. And I didn’t know you already had,” he says.

He could be telling the truth. A part of me thinks it’s kind of nice, albeit misguided, that he wanted to do what he could to save me from being hurt. But a bigger part of me has a hard time believing anything he says. The name of our business isn’t Fool Me Once just for shits and giggles. I’ve lost my faith in mankind. Well, I’ve lost my faith in man, kind or not. Period.

“I haven’t spoken to him at all since I found out the truth. I told him he was a lying sack of shit and a pathetic excuse for a man for doing that to you and the girls. He’s tried calling me a bunch of times since then and I’ve ignored him. You know that you, Meadow, and Livia have always been my top priority.”

At least that part isn’t a lie; he’s always made sure the girls and I are taken care of. Even with my giving him the cold shoulder and refusing to have anything to do with him the last six months, he’s still called to talk to the girls and sent them gifts. And I know for a fact he’s the one who hired a landscaper to mow my lawn every week, even though I know he won’t admit it.